Toughie 1854

Toughie No 1854 by Samuel

Hints and tips by Bufo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

BD Rating – Difficulty **/***Enjoyment ***/****

I was happily eating lunch when it suddenly dawned upon me that it was Thursday and I had a blog to write. I’ve no idea what day I thought it was. Fortunately this Samuel puzzle didn’t present me too many problems and I was able to get the blog finished before the 2 o’clock deadline.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.


1a    Missing ace, player with serve moves awkwardly (10)
PERVERSELY: An anagram (moves) of PLAYER SERVE after removal of A (ace)

6a    Heartlessly disconnected — that’s a blow (4)
CUFF: Remove the middle two letters from ‘disconnected (perhaps by the phone company)’ (3,3) to get a light blow with the open hand. I thought at first that the blow was a current of air but that answer doesn’t quite fit the wordplay

9a    Air letter? So? (5)
MUSIC: A letter of the Greek alphabet + the Latin word for ‘so’

10a    Old South American allegory — rejecting god is useless (9)
INCAPABLE: An old South American from Peru (4) + an allegory (7) with the ancient Egyptian sun-god (2) removed

12a    Deceitful way to ensure short game of snap? (6-7)
DOUBLE-DEALING: The answer suggests that you might be distributing identical playing cards

14a    Bears marks following American in revolution (8)
SUSTAINS: ‘Bears’ or ‘supports’ = a reversal of ‘American’ + discoloured marks

15a    Place to see show without one new fashion designer (6)
CHANEL: Remove one letter N (new) from one TV frequency to give the surname of a French fashion designer

17a    Article by appropriate medic about wings of oceanic bird (6)
AVOCET: The indefinite article + a medic who might treat a bird round the first and last letters (wings) of OCEANIC

19a    Number following 20? That’s in the wrong order (8)
FOURTEEN: F (following) + an anagram (in the wrong order) of the answer to 20 down

21a    Prepare care for leader (5,8)
PRIME MINISTER: ‘To prepare’ + ‘to care’ = the head of a government

24a    Being sixteen, getting upset by church (9)
EXISTENCE: An anagram (getting upset) of SIXTEEN + an abbreviation denoting ‘church’

25a    Assess valley containing one gold, not another? (5)
GAUGE: There are two 2-letter combinations that commonly represent gold in crosswords. Replace one of these in a word meaning ‘valley’ by the other and you get ‘to assess’

26a    Bite, beat, then finally hug (4)
TANG: ‘To beat’ + the last letter of HUG

27a    After school dance, PTA detailed head’s punctuality (10)
PROMPTNESS: A school dance (originally in the US but now also over here) + PTA with the last letter removed + a headland


1d    Show the old turning up to leave Portsmouth (4)
POMP: Remove a reversal of the old word for ‘the’ from Portsmouth’s nickname

2d    Lives regarding both left and right? (7)
RESIDES: ‘Regarding’ (2) + ‘both left and right?’ (5)

3d    Agitatedly recount passing over mature people for promotion … (13)
ENCOURAGEMENT: An anagram (agitatedly) of RECOUNT round ‘to mature’ and ‘people’

4d    … talk about rise for Bob (8)
SHILLING: ‘To talk’ round a rise = a bob (old money)

5d    Clear clue uncovered by detectives (5)
LUCID: The middle two letters of CLUE + ‘detectives’

7d    Italian resident of Lake District maybe ignoring cold (7)
UMBRIAN: Remove C (cold) from an inhabitant of the county that includes the Lake District

8d    Novice was first, say, to get promoted during affair (10)
FLEDGELING: A novice or inexperienced person = ‘was first’ (3) and a reversal of ‘say’ (2) inside a brief sexual relationship

11d    Instruction resulting in hatred got set out to allure? (4,4,2,3)
PLAY HARD TO GET: The answer could be a cryptic instruction in which the first word is an anagram indicator and the other three words are an anagram of HATRED GOT

13d    Bad temper can lead to slippery slope (10)
ESCARPMENT: An anagram (bad) of TEMPER CAN S (first letter of SLIPPERY)

16d    Interminable newspaper piece about one Home Counties stadium (8)
COLISEUM: A newspaper piece (6) with the last letter removed goes round I (one) and two letters denoting the Home Counties to give a stadium named after an amphitheatre in ancient Rome

18d    View Opus 2 that number’s put up with, unknown number splitting halfway through (7)
OPINION: ‘Opus’ + the Roman numeral for 2 + a reversal of the abbreviation for ‘number’ with N (unknown number) put in the middle

20d    Traveller is thus seen limitlessly in northern retreat? Quite the opposite (2,5)
EN ROUTE: N (northern) and a disorderly retreat inside the middle two letters of SEEN

22d    Middle children nicked clothes from the base (5)
INNER: Hidden in reverse in CHILDREN NICKED

23d    Place to eat / dog’s dinner (4)
MESS : 2 meanings: a place to eat (especially for members of the armed services) / a dog’s dinner

A perfectly acceptable puzzle



  1. JB
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thought it was going to be difficult but it gradually fell into place. My stumbling block was19a. Knew the answer but couldn’t work out where the “f” came from. All sorted now. Thank you Bufo. I hope your hasty lunch hasn’t given you indigestion!

  2. LetterboxRoy
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very enjoyable and engaging, though I think we’ve seen 23d recently but with breakfast in place of dinner. Struggled to find the s for 13d for too long. Lots of good clues, many of which I like for different reasons so I’ll pluck 2d, 16d & 24a as canditates and leave it at that.

    Many thanks to Samuel and to Bufo for the review.***/****
    PS Unknown number again!

  3. Tony
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I found this another highly enjoyable puzzle. I confidently had PU[t o]FF for 6a, and I was a little disappointed to find (with Bufo’s blog) there was another (and I would have to agree better) solution. I found it refreshing to have a relativity Google-free puzzle (although I did have to double-check I was right with the bird, and I didn’t know the reference to Portsmouth). Many thanks to Samuel and Bufo.

  4. Gazza
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed this – thanks to Samuel and Bufo. Top of the pile for me was 19a.

  5. jane
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Unlike happy days, I really enjoyed this one although no doubt our football fans found it much easier to get 1d than I did!
    That one plus the unusual (to me at any rate) spelling of 8d were the only things I had to check with Mr. G.

    Plenty of ticks with top marks going to the succinct 21a.

    Many thanks to Samuel and to Bufo for successfully completing his personal race against time to bring us the blog.

  6. PLR
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    After being seen off totally by yesterday’s Toughie it was nice to complete today’s. I appreciate this was entry level stuff.

  7. dutch
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Last one in was 1d, I didn’t know the slang for Portsmouth but it’s in BRB. Otherwise looked tricky at first, but in fact went relatively smoothly with some interesting clues – good fun
    Many thanks Bufo & Samuel

  8. KiwiColin
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 7:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I had the correct answer for 1d but had no idea how Portsmouth had anything to do with it. Seems like a bit of UK GK was needed there. I also had a P as the first letter of 6a and had not looked further for an alternative but agree that the C is more accurate. A pleasant solve.
    Thanks Samuel and Bufo.

  9. Woolgatherer
    Posted July 27, 2017 at 10:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I enjoyed the challenge especially as it was just a bit easier than yesterday’s. My last one in was 1a, owing to having tried for some long time to make an anagram out of the wrong two words!
    Many thanks Samuel and Bufo.

  10. jean-luc cheval
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 12:06 am | Permalink | Reply

    Didn’t get 1d.
    Loved the 19/20 combo.
    Thanks to Samuel and to Bufo for the review.

  11. OldKiwi
    Posted July 28, 2017 at 2:18 am | Permalink | Reply

    Great fun again. Funnily enough 1 down came quite readily. Maybe because there was an old episode of “The Navy Lark” playing at the time.
    21A was my pick

  12. Mister Ron
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 3:52 am | Permalink | Reply

    A very, very late thank you to Bufo for the blog, and to those who commented. I realise that Pompey may have been tricky for non-UK silvers, or for those who don’t follow football!

    Incidentally, what are the rules regarding posts being deleted? I saw on the day of the puzzle that a commenter had been quite critical, had got psyched up to respond, but now find the post has vanished. Did I dream it?!?

    • Posted July 29, 2017 at 8:17 am | Permalink | Reply

      The poster is known to follow one setter and consistently posts negative comments about others. This time I finally got fed up with him. See point 4 in the Comment Etiquette.

    • jane
      Posted July 29, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink | Reply

      Better late than never, Samuel. My word, what late nights you keep!
      Fortunately for me, Mr. Google is rather more on the ball so to speak when it comes to Portsmouth’s recreational activities. Interesting to read the apparent derivation of the nickname.

      Thanks again – ‘see’ you next time.

  13. Catnap
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    At long last I have access to printed copies! (Have been away doing granny duties.)

    I thoroughly enjoyed this,my fave being 19a. I had the correct answer to 1d, but didn’t fully understand the parsing — I had a problem with the fourth letter but didn’t know the meaning of the first three.

    Many thanks and appreciation to Samuel for the enjoyment and to Bufo for explaining 1d and for the lucid blog.

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